731 banks, 70 gas stations destroyed in recent unrest: minister

November 27, 2019 - 18:25

TEHRAN – Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli says 731 banks and 70 gas stations were set ablaze or damaged during the recent unrest in the country.

“The rioters torched 731 banks to create problems,” Rahmani Fazli said on Tuesday evening on state TV.

“Also, they damaged and/or torched 140 public places, 70 gas stations and 9 religious centers and burned 307 automobiles and 1076 motorcycles,” he added.

The minister acknowledged that some questions have been raised following the gasoline price hike “which we should respond to.”

“All governments which are manifestation of their people’s vote want well-being for the people, especially our country which is a democracy,” he remarked.

Protests erupted in Iran on November 15 after the government announced an increase in the price of gasoline, a subsidized commodity that is still cheaper in Iran than other countries in the world.

The proceeds from price increase is paid in form of cash subsidies to 60 million Iranians, who account for about 75 percent of the population.

The rationed gasoline, which is 60 liters per month, is priced 1500 tomans (35 cents) and any amount beyond that is 3000 tomans (70 cents).

The calculation is based on the official rate of 4200 tomans per dollar. However, the value of dollar, due to the U.S. president’s strategy of “maximum pressure” against Iran, is almost 2.5 times higher in the free market.

“We should not forget that we have enemies who have tried to harm us via war and sanctions,” Rahmani Fazli explained.

He said the crisis only began after the foreign-based Persian media entered the stage and incited people by broadcasting footages of other protests to show that the country is in turmoil.

To control the situation, Iran blocked access to the internet for days. 

The minister commented on the internet blackout, saying, “When the number of arsons and destructions increased, we were forced to shut down the internet temporarily.”

He also said the Iranian authorities are well aware of the damage caused by the internet blackout but had no other choice.

Rahmani Fazli emphasized that the Islamic Republic tolerates peaceful protests. 

“Protest is different from riot and the Islamic Republic tolerates peaceful protests,” he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a statement on Friday blacklisting Iran’s ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi for what it called his role in “widescale internet censorship.”

However, Iranian people’s access to the internet has been restored to a great extent.

MH/

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